In what may come as a shock to industry traditionalists, Vodafone has called for an end to the much-lauded "five nines" of reliability, saying the New IP era of NFV and SDN makes it possible to recover services in zero time with zero damages. But lack of vendor leadership and poor industry collaboration on the topic are forcing CSPs to build their own solution to support it.
More specifically, said David Amzallag, head of network virtualization, SDN and NFV at Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) during a keynote presentation at Light Reading's OSS in the Era of SDN and NFV event in London yesterday: "We would be happy to get rid of the concept of five nines. We don't care if the virtual machine collapses as long as the right mechanism exists to recover in zero time and with zero damage to services." (See Vodafone Calls for End to Five Nines.)
New IP networks built on virtualized functions provide service providers like Vodafone the opportunity to do service reliability differently, said Carol Wilson, editor at large at Light Reading, on a post-event call from London today. In the pre-New IP era, reliability was built into the hardware, through redundancy, and service providers relied on automatic failovers to keep networks up when elements went down, she said. "With virtualized networks, individual network elements -- now based on commodity hardware not specialized systems -- can fail but service reliability is maintained, that is the focus."
While it sounds simple enough, there are still challenges – one of which is developing mechanisms that will support that zero downtime and zero damage, said Amzallag. "We do not have the mechanism today and are far from it but we are investing a lot to have it," he said.
According to Iain Morris, news editor at Light Reading, who also attended the London event and reported on Vodafone's keynote, Amzallag chided the vendor community for not showing leadership in important areas such how to interface with OSS systems or new service orchestration.
Vodafone is not alone in its frustration according to Heavy Reading Principal Analyst Caroline Chappell who told Morris that other service providers already rolling out NFV technology are similarly challenged. "One question is how relevant is the existing OSS and there is very little consensus on this," Chappell told Morris. "Quite a few [service providers] are already implementing NFV and starting with the existing OSS even though long term it won't be fit for purpose."
Amzallag also blamed the lack of leadership for OSS interfaces and service orchestration on poor industry collaboration on the topic.
Neil McRae, the chief network architect of BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), also at the event, shared Amzallag's concerns, saying, "The whole future of BSS and OSS architecture is very unclear to us and looks headed in a very complex direction -- it's the biggest task that we have in this space in my view with few mature directions."
For more from OSS in the Era of SDN and NFV, check out:
— Elizabeth Miller Coyne, Editor, The New IP